Do it. And work it out afterwards.
Halfway through my interview with Kojaque he stops me. “Sorry, but you look exactly like a fella I went to school with. It’s so odd – I’ll show you after the interview. You’re the spit of this guy.” Afterwards we take a selfie on his phone. The picture’s going straight on the group chat. Kojaque’s world feels personal, even oddly intimate at times. Maybe ten seconds after he hears my name for the first time we’re talking about Truman Capote and moving to London as though picking up the threads of a conversation from a few days before.
Previous releases have seen the Dublin rapper bribing “the bouncer with a bump of charlie” (‘Last Pint’). Meanwhile, on lead single ‘Airbnb’ from new mixtape Green Diesel, he raps about having sex with a stranger and disappearing over a distorted Soundcloud-rap bassline: “Leave a review of the sheets […] I always fuck it and leave”. That’s not the guy I meet, though – in person he hews much closer to the more introverted moments on debut album Deli Daydreams.
On ‘Love and Braggadocio’, he raps: “I’m a moody bitch, the pen only writes when the mood’s right […] I could love myself, I’m just not there yet.” It’s that kind of quiet self-analysis he brings to the interview. More than once he picks up the spoon from his coffee absent-mindedly while thinking over a question, sticks it in his mouth and leans back, stretching so that the handle points straight upward for a moment, before jolting his chair back down to reality and answering. It never feels like he’s here to promote his mixtape, even though Green Diesel is why we’re both here. The effect is more contemplative, with Kojaque displaying the kind of reserve that comes from an adolescence spent preoccupied with music that people around him didn’t much care for.
It was the discovery of Odd Future which changed everything for him. “I saw them at a festival when I was sixteen. I’d probably only seen ‘Yonkers’ or something, maybe one or two of their other tracks. I went to the gig and was like, ‘this is crazy, I’ve never heard anything like this,’” he says. The DIY mentality and aggressive attitude of early Odd Future resonated with a lot of teenagers in the early 2010s (there’re relatively few other musicians who have had riot police called on an album signing at a comic book store) but it especially hit home for a young Kojaque. “Almost out of spite I was like, ‘fuck it, if they can do it I should be able to do it too.’”